Send to

Choose Destination
EMBO J. 1988 Nov;7(11):3577-87.

The importance of highly conserved nucleotides in the binding region of chloramphenicol at the peptidyl transfer centre of Escherichia coli 23S ribosomal RNA.

Author information

Biostructural Chemistry, Kemisk Institut, Aarhus C, Denmark.


The peptidyl transfer site has been localized at the centre of domain V of 23S-like ribosomal RNA (rRNA) primarily on the basis of a chloramphenicol binding site. The implicated region constitutes an unstructured circle in the current secondary structural model which contains several universally conserved nucleotides. With a view to investigate the function of this RNA region further, four of these conserved nucleotides, including one indirectly implicated in chloramphenicol binding, were selected for mutation in Escherichia coli 23S rRNA using oligonucleotide primers. Mutant RNAs were expressed in vivo on a plasmid-encoded rRNA (rrnB) operon and each one yielded dramatically altered phenotypes. Cells exhibiting A2060----C or A2450----C transversions were inviable and it was shown by inserting the mutated genes after a temperature-inducible promoter that the mutant RNAs were directly responsible. In addition, a G2502----A transition caused a decreased growth rate, probably due to a partial selection against mutant ribosome incorporation into polysomes, while an A2503----C transversion produced a decreased growth rate and conferred resistance to chloramphenicol. All of the mutant RNAs were incorporated into 50S subunits, but while the two lethal mutant RNAs were strongly selected against in 70S ribosomes, the plasmid-encoded A2503----C RNA was preferred over the chromosome-encoded RNA, contrary to current regulatory theories. The results establish the critical structural and functional importance of highly conserved nucleotides in the chloramphenicol binding region. A mechanistic model is also presented to explain the disruptive effect of chloramphenicol (and other antibiotics) on peptide bond formation at the ribosomal subunit interface.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Wiley Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center